[ huh-red-i-tee ]
/ həˈrɛd ɪ ti /

noun, plural he·red·i·ties. Biology.

the transmission of genetic characters from parents to offspring: it is dependent upon the segregation and recombination of genes during meiosis and fertilization and results in the genesis of a new individual similar to others of its kind but exhibiting certain variations resulting from the particular mix of genes and their interactions with the environment.
the genetic characters so transmitted.

Nearby words

  1. hereditary progressive arthro-ophthalmopathy,
  2. hereditary spherocytosis,
  3. hereditary spinal ataxia,
  4. hereditism,
  5. hereditist,
  6. heredo-,
  7. heredo-familial,
  8. heredofamilial,
  9. heredomacular degeneration,
  10. hereford

Compare congenital.

Origin of heredity

1530–40; < Middle French heredite < Latin hērēditāt- (stem of hērēditās) inheritance, equivalent to hērēd- (stem of hērēs) heir + -itāt- -ity Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for heredity

British Dictionary definitions for heredity


/ (hɪˈrɛdɪtɪ) /

noun plural -ties

the transmission from one generation to another of genetic factors that determine individual characteristics: responsible for the resemblances between parents and offspring
the sum total of the inherited factors or their characteristics in an organism

Word Origin for heredity

C16: from Old French heredite, from Latin hērēditās inheritance; see heir

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for heredity



1530s, from Middle French hérédité (12c.), from Latin hereditatem (nominative hereditas) "heirship, inheritance, condition of being an heir," from heres (genitive heredis) "heir, heiress," from PIE root *ghe- "to be empty, left behind" (cf. Greek khera "widow"). Legal sense of "inheritable quality or character" first recorded 1784; the modern biological sense seems to be found first in 1863, introduced by Herbert Spencer.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for heredity


[ hə-rĕdĭ-tē ]


The genetic transmission of characteristics from parent to offspring.
One's genetic constitution.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Science definitions for heredity


[ hə-rĕdĭ-tē ]

The passage of biological traits or characteristics from parents to offspring through the inheritance of genes.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Culture definitions for heredity


The passing of characteristics from parents to children. (See genetics.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.